A Christian organization in Beirut, Lebanon is seeing miracles happening even though the country faces great political unrest and intense poverty.
Tom Atema is the co-founder of a non-profit Christian organization called Heart for Lebanon, started back in 2006. He has been there helping out with the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the people ever since.
"On August 4, 2020, when the blast took place, it was the second-largest explosion in world history, the first one being the atomic bomb. The devastation is still visible today," says Atema.
While some buildings still show signs of the blast nine months later, Atema shares that it's visible in the lives of the people.
"Two million refugees live in this country. They're crowded in but it's the begging on the streets, the car hijackings all driven by the poverty that has taken place that the explosion has fueled."
Initially, roughly 300,000 people were displaced and lost their homes from the blast that happened in Lebanon's port.
"When the explosion took place the government resigned and they still have not been able to put a government together. This evening the president is talking about it, promising all kinds of unity, but the average person on the streets doesn't buy it, because there's been no action," says Atema.
On top of the political unrest, the country is having a hard time with COVID and getting people vaccinated.
"Things are in desperate shape. The government has no money and the vaccine has just started to come here. It costs everybody, if you are paying in Lebanese, it will cost each person one month's salary for one shot."
Atema shares that although things look bleak from an outside perspective, he is seeing God move.
"God's in control and there's a whole other side of the coin that these situations are driving people to ask questions about the future and about God."
Atema has visited and lived in 180 countries around the world, but what he is seeing now is like nothing before.
"I've never seen more people come to faith in Christ in the last year here in the country of Lebanon. They are mostly Muslim background people, but not totally. Muslims from Syria are wide open to discussion of why is this happening and what is the answer, nobody cares for us except for you Christians and why are you helping us?"
These questions and the physical care the Heart for Lebanon team shows refugees open up opportunities to share the love of Jesus with them.
While their groups can't meet in person due to the pandemic, Atema says that their online Bible studies have grown by a third and their two churches have grown by an eighth.
"It's so encouraging to be in a Syrian refugee tent community and you pull up there, and this lady is sharing her Bible lesson that she learned on our What's App group to other ladies in the tent settlements."
As for immediate needs, Atema shares what Heart for Lebanon is looking for.
"Prayers are the number one thing we need right now. We need prayer for wisdom. The poverty level is so dire. After going for dinner in Beirut, we walked three blocks back to the hotel and I had six different ladies with their babies ask for money and help. We need wisdom on who to say yes to. Please pray for our staff because it's tiring when there's no end in sight."
The organization takes a holistic approach to their ministry and are non-denominational.
"This I refer to as our Esther moment for our generation, it's almost unbelievable," says Atema.